Deuteronomy 8–11: See What You Are


A podcast version of this teaching is available here.

In this part of his farewell address, Moses painted the people of Israel as they really were, “warts and all.” It was important for their spiritual life that Moses do this, for one of the first steps toward spiritual maturity is accepting the reality of where we are in our walk with God and making a decision to do something about it. But, let’s not point the finger at Israel and fail to look at ourselves, for the pictures that Moses painted apply directly to us today. As Christians, we need to see ourselves as God sees us and then, by His grace, seek to become all that we can become in Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy chapter eight is a warning against pride. God humbled Israel and brought them to a place where all they could do was rely on Him. It’s interesting to note that some think that God’s work of humbling is accomplished just by bringing us into a humble place. But it is where our heart is while we are in the humble place that is God’s real concern. We may be in a humble place and believe that God owes something different to us, and we will soon get it. Instead, God wants us to be content in the humble place He puts us and for us to look only to Him.

It’s also noteworthy for us to realize that God’s education often takes place in the wilderness. Unfortunately, some people never make it out because of their pride or they are simply not open to learning from the experience and moving on to the next step of total dependence on God. Israel had to rely on God beyond their own knowledge and beyond their own ability. Often, we hold those two things far too tightly. We trust our own skill to understand and our own abilities to solve challenges instead of the kind of total reliance the Israelites developed.

In this chapter, we read of Moses’ concern for the people’s hearts. He encourages them to set aside their own feelings of self-reliance and pride. He encourages them to “remember the Lord your God.” In this way, in times of abundance, they could look back and recall how God delivered them from slavery and provided richly in the wilderness (food and direction).

In chapter nine Moses recounts some of their past failures and points to the difficulty of the battles ahead. God was leading Israel into something far bigger than they had ever encountered. It would be a challenge they could only meet if they fully trusted in God.

Early in the chapter, Moses tells them why victory is possible with the difficult battles ahead— “The Lord your God is He who goes before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them.” Moses doesn’t shrink the enemy. Instead, he redirects the people’s focus from the “giants” they are about to face, to the God of their lives.

He then recounts some of their failures. He’s again warning against pride and helping them to remember how God restored them and kept them in spite of their actions and negative heart-attitude.

We can’t help but admire Moses as the leader of God’s people. He spent forty days on the mountain, learning how to lead the people in their worship of God; and then he spent another forty days fasting and praying, interceding for a nation that complained, resisted his leadership, and rebelled against the Lord. But leaders are tested just as followers are tested, and Moses passed the test. He showed that his great concern wasn’t his own fame or position but the glory of God and the good of the people. In fact, he was willing to die for the people rather than see God destroy them (Ex. 32:31–34).

In chapter ten we read about God’s plan of recovery for Israel after their rebellion at Mount Sinai. Despite their action, God calls for Moses and the people to get moving toward the Promised Land. Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always come to a place of progress again. It does us no good to come back to the Word, come through God’s priesthood in Jesus, and then remain stuck in the same place. God wants us to move on with Him, and when we are walking right with God again, we will go in and possess the land.

Deuteronomy 10:12–13 we read what the Lord requires of His people:

Fear the Lord your God. He’s asking for reverential honor. It’s not a fearful attitude but a heart that so honors God.

Walk in all His ways. God is asking that we live our lives after the pattern He’s set out for us. It’s walking on His road, down His path and not a path of our own making.

Love Him.This isn’t a feeling that just “happens.” It’s an affectionate love that comes from deep within our hearts with gratitude for all He’s doing for us.

Serve Him. All that we do needs to be service to Him. How? The Bible tells us, “with all our heart and with all our soul.” We’re not called to a checking off tasks, but of discovering ways in our everyday lives that serve Him and doing all we do for Him.

Keep His commandments. We need to not only know His Word but also keep it—possess it. When we keep His commandments, we’re transferring knowledge (brain) to action (heart).

Why does the Lord require us to do these things? The Bible says, “For your good.” Every command God gives is for our well-being. They are never given as an exercise of His power or importance. He has our best interest in mind (even when we don’t totally understand it).

Moses ends this portion of his oration with an exhortation and a call to obedience, reverence, and compassion.

In chapter eleven Moses explains to the people the rewards for obedience and the choices they make. He starts by reminding them of all God has done for them. Moses wants them to look at their history and remember what God did.

He speaks to their coming residence in the Promised Land and, once again, repeats the theme of the troubles that come with prosperity and forgetting God. He encourages them to keep God’s Word close; “In their hearts and souls” as a way to guard against the dangers of blessing and disregarding God.

He completes this section by giving them a choice. They can choose blessing or cursing. It’s up to them to decide. Their future victories would depend on this decision. They could either determine in their hearts to love and obey God or they could turn from him, suffer chastening and lack of victory.


  1. It is good for us to have things that keep us in constant dependence on the Lord.The constant need for rain kept Israel in constant dependence on the Lord. We should never despise those things or look for the day when we will no longer need to depend on God as much.
  2. We must trust God to meet their needs a day at a time.If we complain along the way, we’re only giving evidence that we don’t trust God but think we know more than He does about what’s best for us. When we come to those “Kadesh-Barnea” places in life, when we must claim what God has planned for us and move forward by faith, we must not rebel against God and refuse to trust and obey. If we do, we may find ourselves wandering through life, failing to accomplish what God has planned for us.
  3. “Trust and Obey,” we sing. But what we often declare is, “I like it here. We try to find our own answers to life’s questions instead of putting all of our trust into God’s promises. We really kind of like the wilderness. Yet, all the while, there’s territory to take, work to do, blessings ahead.






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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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